The Gaian Worm is the largest of all terrestrial life, only dwarfed by the strange in inchoate lifeforms that drift through the shapeless voids of the aether. It dwells deep within the earth, burrowing through stone and soil, circling the planet an untold number of times. So long as the worm lives, and renews, so shall the planet survive.
Myth of the Cult of Gaia
The Worm of Worms
The Gaian Worm is a singular entity of both enormous size and seemingly limitless ability to hide. There are a few records that are divergent enough source wise to count out copying other influences that hold common information. According to the Sollitimond Palimpsest the Gaian Worm, identified as the Aulterkraken, was a beast of terrible size, a living thing on the scale of a river. The segments of its body were said to be bigger than the largest aging vats of the great brewers of the age. The Crontinix Codex echoes the fact that the worm is of great size and also has a segmented body the color of old copper pieces.
These two works were seperated by the Aserlyn ocean, as well as nearly 600 years difference in writing dates. Most other works are considered suspect, and accused of being copies of other accounts, anecdotal or otherwise. The Sferigna Scrolls give a stranger account of the worm unfurling fern like fronds from its body and simply laying in one place for nearly a year before moving again. Most consider the scrolls to be some sort of joke or a hoax.
The Cult of Gaia
Bearing no relation to the terrestial deity of the same name, this cult was found a generation ago by the half-elf Gaia of Neryswode. The half-elf led a congregation of followers on a mad chase across the continent on a wild hunt for the Gaian worm. She preached a doctrine that the worm spawned all life and as such must be protected at all costs. After several years of no worm sightings, the cult lost some of its power, but its core of zealots remained.
As a pro-enviroment force, the Cult became problematic in areas for breaking waterwheels, digging out dams to flood towns, as well as causing no shortage of mishap at quarries and mines. They claimed that such actions had driven the great worm away and had to be stopped. The Cult suffered another setback shortly after when Gaia herself was caught stealing horses from the king’s silverlode mines in the west. She was tried, sentanced, and hanged before being tossed to the wolfpit. The cult remains, but membership is low, though a charismatic druid or ranger could pull the group together after canonizing Gaia as their first martyr-saint.
The Worm Itself
The Gaian Worm is a massive beast, nearly 200 feet long and 14 feet wide. It’s skin is wrinkled and nominally a pink color. A thick mucus drips from its hide when it is on one of its rare above ground rests. When sunlight falls on it, the skin changes to a blueish green color and several dozen large fleshy fronds stand up erect on its back. These are brilliant green compared to the ruddy green of the body. The tallest of these fronds, which do resemble ferns, can be as much as 30 feet.
The body of the worm is infested with tons of algea and other photosynthetic microplant organisms. They live in a symbiotic relationship with the worm, as it moves them around and protects them from would be predators. In responce, the microplants exude processes starches into the body of the worm. When the sun is brightest, the worm will surface to let the algea and other microplants ‘bloom’, giving it the equivalent to a sugar rush, or to build up extra body fat. Appearances of the worm are actually bad signs as the worm will surface to build of fat reserves when it feels a period of either long winters of drought coming. During said times, the worm burrows deep into the earth and slumbers.
It has a mouth that is nearly as wide as its body, though it has no teeth of any sort. Like a colossal earthworm, it eats soil to digest what nutrients and organic matter it can from said material. This constant movement by the worm and subsequent processing of materials keeps the soil from becoming overly contaminated by magical residues. Areas frequented by the worm are known for having soil that is very good for growing crops.
Wormsign - Strange vibrations shake the ground, wells become muddy and turbid, and strange noises echo up the shafts. Miners tell of noises heard as they work and feelings of fear and dread. The Worm is in the area, and it is not long before rumor of wormsign draws one of the Cult of Gaia zealots looking for proof of the progenitor worm.
A Cult Problem -The local cell of the small and usually harmless Cult of Gaia gains a new leader, one that leads the Cult to more aggressive destruction of manmade works to better call the worm. This is patently false as the new leader is actually a deciever who is using the Cult as a weapon to defend something that is in danger of being discovered, like a diamond mine lost centuries ago, or a forgotten necromancer’s library and tomb.
Calling the Worm - a mage has discerned a spell to call the Worm and does so, hoping to have some sort of revelation. Instead the worm rises up through vital farmland and causing much destruction in the process. a food shortage and famine follow. The cult explodes in popularity after the first modern sighting of the worm, much to the dismay of clergy and nobles. Something must be done before the hysteria gets out of control, and before the worm deos anymore damage.
Sentience - rather than being a beast of mindlessness, the worm is actually vastly and alienly intelligent. An attempt to control or destroy the worm, by the PCs or a necromantic party bent on world destruction, could result in the worm retaliating with bizarre magics that fundamentally change the nature of the attackers, such as transmuting all humans in a 50 mile radius into green slimes.